Tomorrow Night: Against My Better Judgement

I finally nailed down the setlist for tomorrow night’s Nashville Universal You CD release show at the Darkroom (1200 Villa Place, Suite 300):

bethany church road
night after endless night
for change’s sake
piecing together the world
shame on me
heavy hearts (acoustic)
ask anyone (acoustic)
the common life (acoustic)
your next move
don’t let me down
someone else

And there may even be time for a couple more, depending on how things go.

Go HERE for show details — time, place, etc.

Also, I’ve decided (against my better judgement, perhaps) to provide free beer for the show. No joke. FREE BEER.

All YOU have to do is show up.



Back on Track


After much deliberation and over analyzation, we have our album order! The track list will go as follows:

1. Piecing Together the World

2. Clever

3. Standby

4. Mason Jar

5. Elizabeth

6. Someone Else

7. Your Next Move

8. Corner

9. Sunday Morning

10. Shame On Me

11. Heavy Hearts

12. For Change’s Sake

13. The Common Life

14. Ask Anyone

Oh, and Rodney Mills is mastering the songs as we speak.

I can’t believe it’s actually happening.


Will: ‘Universal You’ To Be Mixed by 2/21


And yes, thats 2/21 of THIS year.

For the last two weeks, Will has been neglecting his duties as a husband and father of two (only one wife) in order to churn out mixes of Standby, Piecing Together the World, Clever, Someone Else (featuring recent Grammy-winner Clay Cook!), Shame On Me, Corner of Your Smile, Heavy Hearts, The Common Life, Your Next Move, and Elizabeth.

My sincerest apologies to the wife and kids, but HOLY CRAP these mixes sound fantastic.

If you do the math, you’ll see we’re only four final mixes away (Ask Anyone, For Change’s Sake, Sunday Morning, Mason Jar) from having an entirely mixed 14-song “Universal You.”

Repent, for the end is near.


P.S. We’ve also begun preliminary concepting for the album’s design/packaging, courtesy of Scott Sanders of Red Eye Gravy (a Lenz Music production). Very exciting times. More to come soon!

Studio 9/22: Now the Student Has Become the Master

I never made it home OR to the studio Monday night.

You see, God decided he’d punish the city of Atlanta for its terrible drivers and poor city planning by unleashing the floods, forcing hundreds of road closings and rendering commuters all over town stranded and homeless for the night.

Thank you Mike and Jessica for dinner and the use of your couch. Thank you Liam for sleeping soundly through the night.

By end of the workday Tuesday I was anxious to get home, but not as anxious as I was to get back to tracking what we were unable to track the night before: backing vocals for Elizabeth, Mason Jar, and Heavy Hearts.


Heavy Hearts? Check.

Elizabeth (which has been renamed “Elizabitch” by some)? Check.

Mason Jar? Check; that is, if Will’s badass slow-jams low harmony ends up working with the overall tone of the song, which I’m thinking it will… I was having trouble nailing down the chorus’s upper-third harmony to my satisfaction, so Will began experimenting with a lower part. The more he got warmed up the better we both began to feel about the direction the song was taking, and before I knew it (in an unprecedented reversal of producer/artist roles), Will was at the mic tracking vocals while I coached, encouraged, and directed. It was like when Puffy started rapping after Biggie got his ass shot off, except Will’s not dead and I don’t have my own clothing line.

Anyway, the student had indeed become the master, if only for an hour and a half.

My point here, people, is that Will (known from here on out as “sensai”) has talents beyond just those as a producer, engineer, guitarist, bassist (electric and upright), cellist, strings arranger, and pianist…he also SINGS, and sings well. You’ll be hearing his vocal stylings on at least a couple of tracks off the record, guaranteed.

Speaking of tracks off the record: I’ll soon be arranging for my little blog to have mp3-playing capabilities. This way, I’ll be able to “show” instead of just “tell” about the evolutions of these songs in their final stages. I’ll have to solicit someone’s help with this, because technically, I’m stupid.

Stay tuned!


Studio 8/10: Thai Food and Movie Stars

Any doubts I had about deciding to tack on a 15th song were quickly put to bed this morning after witnessing Kevin Leahy‘s performance on “Clever.” Seriously, I couldn’t have asked for anything better, from his opening tom roll to his closing ride-sizzle decrescendo.

Thanks to Kevin’s superb drumming, “Clever” is my new favorite track on the record and “Heavy Hearts” is off the bubble.

Thank you so much, Kevin. You’re worth far more than I could afford to pay you.

And because he and Will worked so efficiently — they were through tracking by lunchtime — I had time to track acoustic guitar for “Ask Anyone” before Will changed back into his SuperDad costume (as he does daily at 5 p.m.).

Not bad for a day’s work, even if someone else did most of it.

Good night.


Wait, I just noticed something… doesn’t Kevin resemble a slimmer, long-haired Philip Seymour Hoffman?

Studio 5/19: Two For One

This was the night of vocal tracking I’d been dreading for months.

Will convinced me to attempt vocals for “Someone Else,” a song I rarely play live unless no one’s there to hear it or I’ve had enough Basil Hayden to not care who hears it. It’s typically very hard for me to pull off as the melody shoots to the top of my register on the first line and sits there until the end. You’d think I wrote the song before I hit puberty. In fact, a swift kick to the crotch might actually help me reach the notes this song requires…

But after weeks of putting this session off in fear of failure, it went off with out a hitch–and I didn’t even have to take off my pants. Sure, there were some laughable warm up takes, but in the end “Someone Else” wasn’t nearly as belabored or time-consuming as some of the “simpler songs” we’d tackled previously. It truly was magical.

I was feeling so good I decided to tackle the vocals for “Heavy Hearts.” We finished in record time. Only four more vocal tracks to go! I can’t believe it.

Do you believe there’s such thing as a studio God? Well, I do–now–and I believe he is smiling down on Will and me.


Studio 3/19: Everything sucks

Wherever you were tonight, be thankful you weren’t in Will’s basement to witness the worst piano performance of all time.

You would have thought I’d never been introduced to the instrument. It took me 88 takes to track “Heavy Hearts,” a song that before tonight I’d played flawlessly 88 times in a row. Tonight, however, I managed to eff it up in 88 different ways.

What a waste of everybody’s time. Everything sucks. 

Good night.


Heavy Hearts

preacher, i don’t understand

i often hear you speak of abundant life

but we ain’t seen no promised land

and we ain’t getting any younger

preacher, how do you explain

the heavy hearts of those who turn to you

are these the lives that you ordained

is there blood upon your hands

preacher, not so long ago

a woman came to pray in your holy place

that woman soon would have a son

that son would grow to hate you

preacher, you should be ashamed

you call yourself a righteous man

the people here are not to blame

they don’t know the difference

i want to believe again

i’m dying to live again

i want to believe again

but i ain’t getting any younger